WAR, PROGRESS, AND THE END OF HISTORY, INCLUDING A SHORT STORY OF THE ANTI-CHRIST: THREE DISCUSSIONS
Audiatur et secunda pars
THE SECOND DISCUSSION
Audiatur et secunda pars
NEXT afternoon, at the appointed hour, we were having tea under the palm trees. Only the Prince was late; we had to wait for him. As I did not play cards that evening, I was able to take down the whole of the second discussion from the beginning. This time the Politician said so much, drawling out his interminable and intricate sentences in such a manner that I found it impossible for me to write down his exact words. I quote verbatim a fair amount, however, of what he said, and make some attempt to preserve his characteristic utterance; but more often I shall be found to give only the substance of his speech in my own words.
POLITICIAN. For some time now I have been observing one extraordinary fact: those men who pretend to take a vast interest in certain of the higher morals seem never able to exercise the simplest, the most necessary, and, in my opinion, the one essential virtue -- politeness. All the more reason, therefore, to thank God that we have comparatively few people obsessed with this notion of higher morals. I say "notion," because as a matter of fact I have never come across it, and therefore have no reason to believe in the actual existence of such a thing.
LADY. There is nothing new in that. As to politeness, there is some truth in what you say. Now before we approach the main subject of our discussion, perhaps you will attempt a proof that politeness is the one essential virtue. A trial proof, let us say, on which you may test your powers just as musicians test their instruments in the orchestra before the overture.
POLITICIAN. When the orchestra is tuning up, we hear only single disconnected sounds. I fear my proof would inflict on us a similar monotony; for hardly anybody would urge the opposite opinion -- at least, not before the Prince comes in. Of course, when he arrives it would not be polite at all to speak of politeness.
LADY. Obviously. But what are your arguments?
POLITICIAN. I think you will agree that it is quite possible to live an enjoyable life in a society in which there was not a single person chaste, or disinterested, or unselfish. I, at any rate, could always live in such society without feeling in the least uncomfortable.
LADY. In Monte Carlo, for instance?
POLITICIAN. In Monte Carlo, or anywhere else. Nowhere is there any need for even a single exponent of the higher morals. Now, you try to live in company where you cannot find a single polite man.
GENERAL. I don't know what kind of company you are talking about, but in the Khiva campaign  or in the Turkish campaign we should have fared ill if we had had no other virtue save politeness.
POLITICIAN. You may just as well say that something besides politeness is necessary for a traveller in Central Africa. I am speaking of a regular everyday life in a civilised human society. For this life no higher virtues and no Christianity, so called, are necessary. (To Mr. Z.) You shake your head?
MR. Z. I have just recollected a sad incident, of which I was informed the other day.
LADY. What is it?
MR. Z. My friend N. died suddenly.
GENERAL. Is he the well-known novelist?
MR. Z. That's the man.
POLITICIAN. The notices about his death in the Press were rather obscure.
MR. Z. Obscure they were, indeed.
LADY. But what made you think of him just at this moment? Was he killed by somebody's impoliteness?
MR. Z. Not at all! He died through his own excessive politeness and through nothing else.
GENERAL. Once more, it seems, it is impossible for us to agree.
LADY. Tell us the story, please, if you can.
MR. Z. There is nothing to conceal about it. My friend believed that politeness, if not the only virtue, is at least the first inevitable stage of social morality. He regarded it his duty to carry out all its prescriptions in the strictest possible manner. For instance, amongst other things he held it to include the reading of all the letters he received, even though they were sent by strangers, and also of all the books and pamphlets sent him with demands for reviews. He scrupulously answered every letter and as scrupulously wrote all the reviews demanded by his correspondents. He complied with all the requests and responded to all appeals made to him. As a result he found himself busy all day long attending to other people's affairs, and for his own work had to be satisfied with the night time. More than this, he accepted every invitation and saw all the visitors who caught him at home. So long as my friend was young and could easily stand the effects of frequent friendly potations, this galley-slave existence he had created for himself owing to his politeness merely annoyed him, and did not lead to tragedy: wine brought joy to his heart and saved him from despair. When he felt he would hang himself rather than stand it any longer, he would fetch out a bottle, from which he drew  that which helped him drag  his chains more cheerfully. But he was by no means a robust man, and at the age of forty-five had to give up drinking strong liquors. In his new state of sobriety he found his hard labour worse than hell itself, and now I am told that he has committed suicide.
LADY. Do you mean to say that this was the result solely of his politeness? It was simply that he was out of his senses.
MR. Z. I have no doubt that the poor fellow had lost his spiritual and mental balance. But the word "simply" I think is hardly applicable to his case.
GENERAL. I, too, have known similar cases of madness. They would drive us mad too if we cared to examine them carefully: there is precious little that is simple about them.
POLITICIAN. One thing is clear, however, and that is, politeness has nothing to do with the case. Just as the Spanish crown is not responsible for the madness of Councillor Popristchin,  so the duty of politeness is not answerable for the madness of your friend.
MR. Z. I quite agree. I am by no means opposed to politeness, I merely object to making any kind of absolute rule.
POLITICIAN. Absolute rules, like everything else absolute, are only an invention of men who are lacking in common sense and the feeling of reality. There are no absolute rules for me. I recognise only necessary rules. For instance, I know perfectly well that if I disregard the rules of cleanliness the result will be unpleasant to myself and to everyone else. As I have no desire to experience any objectionable sensations myself or to make other people experience them, I invariably observe the rule of washing myself daily, of changing my linen, and so forth, not because this is recognised by others, or by myself, or because it is something sacred which it is a sin to disregard, but simply because any disregard of this rule would be ipso facto materially inconvenient. The same applies to politeness in general, which, properly speaking, includes cleanliness as a part of it. It is much more convenient to me, as to everybody else, to observe rather than to break the rules of politeness. So I follow them. It suited your friend's fancy to imagine that politeness required from him answers to all letters and requests without considering his personal comforts and advantage. That sort of thing is surely not politeness at all, but merely an absurd kind of self-denial.
MR. Z. An abnormally developed conscientiousness gradually became with him a mania, which eventually brought him to his ruin.
LADY. But it is awful that a man should have died because of such a foolish idea. How is it that you could not bring him to his senses?
MR. Z. I tried my best and had a powerful ally in a pilgrim from Mount Athos. He, by the way, was half a madman himself, but he had a remarkable personality all the same. My friend esteemed him greatly and often asked his advice in spiritual matters. The pilgrim instantly perceived the root of all the trouble. I knew the man very well and I was sometimes present at their conversations. When my friend began telling him of his moral doubts and to ask whether he was right in this or wrong in that, Barsanophius would immediately interrupt him with: "What, you are distressed about your sins? Give it up, my dear fellow, it is nothing. Let me tell you this: sin five hundred and thirty-nine times a day if you like, but, for Heaven's sake don't repent. To sin first and then to repent? Why, anybody can do that. Sin, by all means -- and often! But repent? Never! For, if sin be evil, then to remember evil means to be vindictive, and nobody approves of that. And the worst vindictiveness of all is to remember your own sins. It is far better that you should remember the evil done to you by others -- there would be some benefit in this, as you would be careful with such people in future. But as for your own sins -- forget them utterly. It is by far the better way. There is only one mortal sin -- despondency, because it gives birth to despair, and despair is not even a sin, it is the death of spirit itself. Now, what other sins are there? Drunkenness? But a clever man drinks only so much as he has room for. If he has no more room left, he leaves off drinking. Now, a fool will get drunk even with spring water. So you see the real cause lies not in the strength of wine, but in the weakness of man. Some people are absolutely scorched up with vodka, and not only internally, but externally as well. They go black all over and little flashes of blue flame flicker all over them; I have seen this with my own eyes. Now, how can you speak of the presence of sin when all the time hell itself is visibly coming out from you? And as to transgressions of the seventh commandment, let me tell you candidly that it is as difficult to censure them as it is impossible to praise them. But I can hardly recommend them! There is ecstatic pleasure in it -- one cannot deny it -- but at the end it brings despondency and shortens one's life. If you don't believe me, see what a learned German doctor writes. Here Barsanophius would take an old-fashioned book from a shelf and would begin turning over the leaves. "The title alone is worth something, my dear fellow," he would say. "The Microbiotica, by Gufeland! Look here, page 176." And he would slowly read passages in which the German author earnestly warns his readers against extravagant waste of the vital forces. "You see now? Why should then a clever man suffer any loss? While one is young and thoughtless all sorts of things are pictured by the imagination. But later on -- no, it is too costly an amusement. And as for recalling the past and grieving over it and sighing 'Alas! why have I damned myself? I have lost my innocence and spotted the purity of my soul and body!' Well, this, I can assure you, is mere foolishness. It simply means that you deliver yourself right into the hands of the Devil for his eternal amusement. It flatters him, naturally, that your soul cannot go forward and upward, but stays marking time in the same old filthy spot. But here is my advice to you: as soon as he starts disturbing you by this sort of repentance, you simply spit and rub it with your foot, saying, 'See now, all my grievous sins, here they are. Ah, what a lot they mean to me. What rot!' I can assure you he will leave you alone -- I speak from experience.... Well, what other sins have you got? Are you thinking of trying stealing? And if you did steal -- there is no very great harm in it: nowadays everybody steals. Therefore, you mustn't think anything of such a trifle at all. The one thing to beware of is despondency. Should the memory of your past sins torment you, so that you wonder whether you have done harm to anybody or anything, then go to a theatre, or perhaps join some jolly friends, or read something funny. If, however, you insist on my giving you a rule, here is, then, one: Be firm in your faith, not through fear of sins, but because it is a joyful thing for a clever man to live with God; without God a man is utterly wretched. Try to understand the word of God. If you read it carefully there is comfort and happiness in every verse. Say your prayers with real uplifting of your soul once or twice every day. You never by any chance forget to wash yourself? No? Well, a sincere prayer is better for a man's soul than any amount of soap is for his body. Fast for the health of the stomach and your other organs. Just now every doctor is prescribing this for people on the wrong side of forty. Don't worry about other people's business, and don't go in for organised charity, if you have your own occupation. But give alms to the poor you meet, and never stay to count the cost. Give without stint to churches and monasteries. Do not reckon the amount; in Heaven's clearing-house they will count it all up themselves. And then, you will be healthy in body and soul, and as for those hypocrites who would poke their noses into everybody's soul, because they find their own so hollow -- with these you must never even speak."
Such talks as these had a very good effect on my poor friend, but even they could not at the last raise him from the mire of despondency; besides, lately he seldom met Barsanophius.
POLITICIAN. Do you know that this pilgrim of yours says in his way practically what I have been saying?
LADY. So much the better. But what a wonderful moralist he is, indeed! "Sin, if you must, but above all never repent." It appeals to me mightily!
GENERAL. I suppose he did not talk like this to everyone? In dealing with a murderer or a scoundrel he must surely have adopted quite a different tone.
MR. Z. That should be obvious. But as soon as he observes a man overwhelmed with moral doubts he at once becomes a philosopher and even a fatalist. He once delighted a very clever and educated old lady. Though she was Russian by faith, she was educated abroad, and having heard a great deal about our Barsanophius, she looked to him as to "un directeur de conscience." He, however, did not let her talk much about the worries of her soul. "And why do you worry yourself about all this rubbish? Who wants to hear it? I am only a common peasant, and yet it bores me to death. How can you imagine, then, that God can take any interest in it? And what is the good of talking about it? You are too old and too weak to begin improvement now." She afterwards herself told me this conversation, laughing and weeping at the same time. True, she tried to argue with him, but he completely persuaded her by a story from the life of two ancient hermits -- Barsanophius narrated it to me and N. very often. It is a very fine story, only it will perhaps take too long to tell it.
LADY. Tell us in brief.
MR. Z. Well, I will. Two hermits had gone out into the Nitrian desert to save their souls. Their caves were not far distant from each other, but they themselves never talked together, except that they occasionally sang psalms, so that each could hear the other. In this way they spent many years, and their fame began to spread in Egypt and the surrounding countries. It came to pass that one day the Devil managed to put into their minds, both at the same time, one and the same desire, and without saying a word to each other they collected their work, baskets and mats made of palm leaves and branches, and went off to Alexandria. They sold their work there, and then for three days and three nights they sought pleasure in the company of drunkards and libertines, after which they went back to their desert.
And one of them cried out in bitterness and agony of soul:
"I am lost eternally! Cursed am I! For no prayers and penance can atone for such madness, such abominations! All my years of fasting and prayer gone for nothing! I am ruined, body and soul!"
The other man, however, was walking by his side and singing psalms in a cheerful voice.
"Brother," said the repentant one, "have you gone mad?"
"Why do you ask that?"
"But why aren't you afflicting yourself?"
"What is it that I should feel afflicted about?"
"Listen to him! Have you forgotten Alexandria?"
"Well, what about Alexandria? Glory to God who preserves that famous and pious city!"
"But we, what did we do in Alexandria?"
"You know well enough yourself; we sold our baskets, worshipped St. Mark, visited other churches, called on the pious governor of the city, conversed with the good prioress Leonilla, who is always kind to monks...."
"But didn't we spend the night in a house of ill fame?"
"God save us! No! We spent the evening and night in the patriarch's court."
"Holy martyrs! He has lost his mind.... Where then did we treat ourselves to wine?"
"We partook of wine and food at the patriarch's table on the occasion of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin."
"Poor, miserable creature! And who was it whom we kissed, not to mention worse things? "
"We were honoured with a holy kiss on departing by the Father of Fathers, the most blessed archbishop of the great city of Alexandria and the whole of Egypt, Libya and Pentapolis, and judge of the World, Cyrus-Timotheus, with all the fathers and brothers of his God-chosen clergy."
"Are you making a fool of me? Or is it that the Devil himself has entered your soul as punishment for the abominations of yesterday? They were wretched libertines, you blackguard, that you kissed!"
"Well, I don't know which of us the Devil has entered: whether he has entered me, who am rejoicing in the gifts of God and in the benevolence of the godly priests, and am praising my Maker, as should every other living thing -- or whether he has entered you, who are now raving like a madman and calling the house of our blessed father and pastor a house of ill fame, all the time insulting him and his God-loved clergy by calling them libertines."
"Oh, heretic you are! You offspring of Arian! Accursed mouth of Apollinarius that you are!"
At this the hermit who had been bewailing his lapse from virtue fell upon his comrade and began beating him with all his might. When the outburst was over, they walked silently to their caves. All night long the repentant one was wearing himself out with grief, filling the desert with his groans and cries, tearing his hair, throwing himself on the ground and dashing his head against it, whilst the other was quietly and happily singing his psalms. Next morning the repentant hermit was struck by a sudden thought: "By my many years of self-denial I had been granted a special blessing of the Holy Spirit which had already begun to reveal itself in miracles and apparitions. Now, if after this I gave myself up to the abominations of the flesh, I must have committed a sin against the Holy Spirit, which, according to the word of God, is for all eternity unpardonable. I cast a pearl, pure as heaven, before the swine of my reason -- those devils -- and they have crushed it to powder. Now they will most certainly turn on me and tear me to pieces. If, however, I am irrevocably doomed, what can I do here in the desert?" And so he went to Alexandria and gave himself up to a wanton life. It so happened that soon he badly wanted money, and, in company with other dissolute fellows like himself, he murdered and robbed a wealthy merchant. The crime was discovered; he was tried by the city court and sentenced to death. He died an unrepentant sinner.
At the same time his old friend, continuing his life of devotion, attained to the highest degree of saintliness, and became famous for his great miracles, so that by the virtue of his mere word, women who had had no children for many years gave birth to men-children. When finally the day of his death arrived, his decrepit and withered body suddenly became resplendent with the beauty of youth. A wondrous light surrounded it; from it proceeded the perfume of sweet spices. After his death a monastery was built up over his relics, and his name passed from the Alexandrian Church to the Byzantine, and so to the church calendars of Kiev and Moscow. "It proves that I am telling the truth," Barsanophius used to say, in conclusion, "when I say that there is only one sin which does harm, and that is despondency." You see, every other crime the pilgrims both committed, but only one met his doom -- he who gave himself up to grief.
GENERAL. You see, even monks have to be cheerful; whereas nowadays some would like to see soldiers bemoan their sins.
MR. Z. After all, then, though we have departed from the question of politeness, we have again approached our main subject.
LADY. And just at the psychological moment. For here comes the Prince at last. We have been talking, Prince, in your absence, about politeness.
PRINCE. Please pardon me; I could not get here earlier. A bundle of all sorts of papers from our people, and various parcels of books, have arrived. I'll show you them by and bye.
LADY. Very well. Later, too, I will tell you the legend of two monks with which we have been consoling ourselves in your absence. At present our Secret Monte-Carlist holds the floor. Now let us hear from you what you have to say about war after our discussion of yesterday.
POLITICIAN. From the. discussion of yesterday I have retained in my memory Mr. Z.'s reference to Vladimir Monomach, and the war story told by the General. Let these be our starting points for further discussion of the question. It is impossible to argue against the fact that Vladimir Monomach acted well when he fought and overcame the Polovtziens, and that the General also acted well when he annihilated the bashi-bazouks.
LADY. Then you agree with them?
POLITICIAN. I agree with that which I have the honour of stating before you now, viz., that both Monomach and the General acted in the way in which, in the given circumstances, they should have acted. But what follows from this to help us in judging the circumstances themselves, or for the justification and immortalisation of war and militarism?
PRINCE. This is just what I was about to say.
LADY. Then you agree with the Prince now, don't you?
POLITICIAN. If you will allow me to explain my view of the subject, you will see yourself with whom and with what I do agree. My view is only a logical conclusion drawn from actual life and the facts of history. How can one argue against the historical importance of war when it is the main, if not the only, instrument by which the State has been created and gradually consolidated? Show me a single State which was founded and made secure otherwise than by war.
LADY. What about the United States?
POLITICIAN. I thank you for an excellent example. I am, however, speaking of the creation of a State. The United States, as a European colony, was, of course, founded not by war but by exploration, just as all other colonies were. But the moment this colony wished to become a State, it had to earn its political independence by means of a long war.
PRINCE. From the fact that the State has been created by war, which is, I agree, indisputable, you seem to conclude that war is all-important. In my opinion, however, the only conclusion which can be drawn from this fact is the unimportance of the State -- for those people, of course, who no longer believe in the worship of violence.
POLITICIAN. Why all at once the worship of violence? What would it be for? Just you try to establish a stable human community outside the compulsory forms of the State, or yourself reject in practice everything that takes its life from the State -- then you will be able to speak legitimately of the unimportance of the State. But until you do so, the State, and everything for which you and I are indebted to it, will remain a colossal fact, whilst your attacks against it remain but empty words. Now, I say again that the supreme historical importance of war, as the principal condition in the creation of a State, is beyond any doubt. But I ask you: Is it not right to regard this great task of creating States as already completed in its broad outlines? As to the details, these can be settled without having recourse to such a heroic instrument as war. In ancient times and during the Middle Ages, when the world of European culture was merely an island in the midst of an ocean of more or less barbarous tribes, the military system was necessitated by the very instinct of self-preservation. It was at that time necessary to be always ready to repel any hordes which suddenly swooped down from an unsuspected quarter to trample down the feeble growth of civilisation. At present it is only the non-European element which can be described as the islands, for European culture has become the ocean which is gradually washing these islands away. Our scientists, explorers, and missionaries have searched the whole earth without finding anything which is likely to menace seriously our civilised world. Savages are being successfully exterminated, or are dying out; whilst militant barbarians, like the Turks and Japanese, are being civilised and losing their liking for warfare. In the meanwhile, the process of uniting all the European nations in the common bond of civilised life ...
LADY (in a whisper). Monte Carlo....
POLITICIAN. ... In the common bond of civilised
life has grown to such an extent that war amongst
these nations would really be something in the nature
of fratricide, which could not be excused on any
grounds now that peaceful settlement of international disputes has become possible. It would be
as fantastic in our time to solve such disputes by
war as it would be to travel from St. Petersburg to
Marseilles in a sailing boat or in a coach driven by
a "troika." I quite agree, of course, that "A lonely
sail is looming white in the blue mist of the sea" or
"See the troika flitting wild"  sounds vastly more
poetic than the screeching of railway engines or
cries of "En voiture, messieurs!" In the same way
I am prepared to admit the aesthetic superiority of
the "bristling steel of lances" and of "with swinging step in shining array the army is marching
along" over the portfolios of diplomats and the
cloth-covered tables of peaceful Congresses. But
the serious attitude towards this vital question must,
obviously, be entirely independent of the aesthetic
appreciation of the beauty which belongs not to
real war (this, I can assure you, has very little of
the beautiful), but to its reflection in the imagination of the poet and artist. Well, then, once it has
been understood by everybody that war, however
interesting for poetry and painters (these, of course,
could be well satisfied with past wars), is useless
now, for it is a costly and risky means of achieving
ends which can be achieved at much less cost and
in a more certain way by other methods, it follows
then that the military period of history is over. I
am speaking, of course, en grand. The immediate
disarmament of nations is out of the question. But
I firmly believe that neither ourselves nor our sons
will ever see a great war -- a real European war --
and that our grandsons will learn only of little wars --
somewhere in Asia or Africa -- and of those from
I may say, by way of parenthesis, that I am puzzled to find some modern philosophers discussing the rational basis of war, independently of the time. Has war any rational basis? C'est selon. Yesterday it probably had everywhere a rational basis; to-day it has a rational basis only somewhere in Africa and Middle Asia, where there are still savages. Tomorrow it will be justified nowhere. It is remarkable that with the loss of its rational basis war is, though slowly, losing its glamour. This can be seen even in a nation so backward in the mass as our own. Judge yourself: the other day the General triumphantly pointed out the fact that all our saints are either monks or soldiers. I ask you, however, to what historical period does all this military holiness or holy militarism actually belong? Is it not that very period in which war was in reality the most necessary, salutary, and, if you will, most holy enterprise. Our saint-warriors were all princes of the Kiev and Mongolian periods, but I fail to recollect any lieutenant-general amongst them. Now, what is the meaning of it all? You have two famous warriors, having exactly the same personal right to saintship, and it is granted to one and refused to the other. Why is it? Tell me, why is Alexander the Nevsky, who overthrew the Livonians and Swedes in the thirteenth century, a saint, whereas Alexander Suvorov, who overcame the Turks and the French in the eighteenth century, is not? You cannot reproach Suvorov with anything incompatible with holiness. He was sincerely pious, used to sing publicly in the church choir and read out the Bible from the lectern, led an irreproachable life, was not even any woman's lover, whilst his eccentricities make no obstacle to, but rather supply, a further argument for his being canonised. The sole difference is that Alexander the Nevsky fought for the national and political future of his country, which, half battered down in the East, could scarcely survive another battering in the West. The intuitive sense of the people grasped the vital importance of the position, and gave the Prince the highest reward they could possibly bestow upon him by canonising him. Whereas the achievements of Suvorov, though greatly superior in the military sense, particularly his Hannibalian passage of the Alps, did not respond to any pressing need; he was not obliged to save Russia, and so, you see, he has for ever remained merely a military celebrity.
LADY. But the leaders of the Russian army in 1812, though they were saving Russia from Napoleon, yet failed to get canonised either.
POLITICIAN. Oh, well, "saving Russia from Napoleon" -- that is merely patriotic rhetoric. Napoleon wouldn't have swallowed us up, nor was he going to. The fact that we finally got the upper hand certainly revealed our power as a nation and a State, and helped to awaken our national consciousness. But I can never admit that the war of 1812 was caused by any pressing necessity. We could very well have come to terms with Napoleon. But, naturally enough, we could not oppose him without taking some risks, and though the risks proved lucky for us, and the war was brought to an end in a way that greatly flattered our national self-esteem, yet its subsequent effects could hardly be regarded as really useful. If I see two athletes suddenly without any conceivable reason falling upon each other and one worsting the other, both suffering no harm to their health, I would perhaps say of the victor, "He is a good sport!" but the need of just this particular form of sportsmanship and of no other would remain for me very obscure. The fame of 1812, the national virtues revealed at that time, remain with us, whatever the causes of the war may have been.
This is very good for poetry: "the sacred verity!" But I turn to what came out of that verity, and I find on the one side archimandrite Photius, Magnitsky, Araktcheiev, and on the other side, the Decabrists' conspiracy, and, en somme, that thirty years' long regime of belated militarism, which eventually brought us to the debacle of the Crimean War.
LADY. And what about Poushkin?
POLITICIAN. Poushkin? Why Poushkin?
LADY. I have recently read in the papers that the national poetry of Poushkin owed its inspiration to the military glories of 1812.
MR. Z. And not without some special participation of artillery, as the poet's name indicates. 
POLITICIAN. Yes; perhaps that is really how it is. To continue my argument, however. As years roll on the uselessness of our wars becomes ever clearer and clearer. The Crimean War is regarded in Russia as very important, as it is generally believed that the liberation of serfs and all the other reforms of Alexander II. were due to its failure. Even supposing this was so, the beneficial effects of an unsuccessful war, and only because it was unsuccessful, cannot, of course, serve as an apology for war in general. If I, without any satisfactory reason, try jumping off the balcony and put my arm out of joint, and later on this dislocation prevents me from signing a ruinous promissory note, I shall be glad afterwards that it had happened like that; but I will not say that it is generally recommended to jump off a balcony and not to walk down by the stairs. You will agree that when the head is not hurt there is no need for hurting the arm in order to escape signing ruinous agreements; one and the same good sense will save a man both from foolish leaps from a balcony and from foolish signatures. I believe that even if there were no Crimean War the reforms of Alexander II would most probably have been carried out, and perhaps in a more secure and far-reaching way. But I am not going to prove this now; we must see that we do not depart from our subject. At any rate, political acts cannot be rated at their indirect and unforeseen consequences; and as to the Crimean War, that is, its commencement brought about by the advance of our army to the Danube in 1853, it had no reasonable justification. I cannot call sensible the policy which one day saves Turkey from the smashing defeat inflicted on Mehmet Ali by the Pasha of Egypt, thus hindering the division of the Moslem world round two centres, Stambul and Cairo, which, it seems, would not have done us much harm; and which next day tries to destroy this same redeemed and reinforced Turkey, with the risk of running against the whole of the European coalition. This is not policy, but a sort of Quixotism. The same name I will apply also -- I hope the General will pardon me this -- to our last Turkish war.
LADY. And the bashi-bazouks in Armenia? Didn't you approve of the General for annihilating them?
POLITICIAN. Pardon me, I maintain that at the present time war has become useless, and the story told by the General the other day bears this out particularly well. I quite understand that anybody whose military duty made him an active participant in the war, and who happened to come across irregular Turkish troops inflicting terrible barbarities upon the peaceful population, I say that that man, that every man (looking at the Prince) free from preconceived "absolute principles," was obliged by sentiment and by duty alike to exterminate those bashi-bazouks without mercy, as the General did, and not to worry about their moral regeneration, as the Prince suggests. But, I ask, in the first place, who was the real cause of all this wretched business? And, in the second place, what has been achieved by the military intervention? To the first question I can answer in all honour only by pointing to that bad militant policy which irritated the Turks by inflaming the passions and supporting the pretensions of the Christian populations. It was only when Bulgaria began to swarm with revolutionary committees and the Turks became alarmed at possible interference on the part of the European Powers, which would have led the State to inevitable ruin, that the Turks began to slaughter the Bulgarians. The same thing also happened in Armenia. As to the second question, what has come out of it? The answer supplied by recent events is so striking that nobody can help noticing it. Judge yourself: in 1877 our General destroys a few thousands of bashi-bazouks and by this probably saves a few hundreds of Armenians. In 1895, in the very same place, very much the same bashi-bazouks slaughter not hundreds but thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands of the population. If various correspondents can be trusted (though I myself would not advise anyone to do so), the number of people massacred was nearly half a million. Of course, this is all a fairy tale. But there can be little doubt that these later Armenian massacres were carried out on a much larger scale than the old Bulgarian ones. There you have the beneficent results of our patriotic and philanthropic war.
GENERAL. Now, understand it who can! Now it is bad policy which is to be blamed, now it is the patriotic war. One might believe that Prince Gorchakov and M. Hirs were soldiers, or that Disraeli and Bismarck were Russian patriots and philanthropists.
POLITICIAN. Is my statement really not clear enough? I have in view the indisputable connection, and not some abstract or ideal one, but the wholly real, pragmatic connection between the war of 1877, which was brought about by our bad policy, and the recent massacres of Christians in Armenia. You probably know, and if you don't you will profit by learning it, that after 1878 Turkey, who could see her future prospects in Europe from the terms of the St. Stephen's agreement, resolved at any rate to secure her position in Asia. First of all she secured an English guarantee at the Berlin Congress. She, however, rightly believed that England would help her if she helped herself, and commenced to reinforce and establish her irregular armies in Armenia, more or less those very "devils" which the General had to deal with. This proved a very sound policy; only fifteen years passed after Disraeli had, in exchange for Cyprus, guaranteed Turkey her Asiatic dominions, when English policy, in view of changed circumstances, became anti-Turkish and Armeniophile, whilst English agitators appeared in Armenia as Slavophile agitators did earlier in Bulgaria. At that moment those familiar to the General as "devils" found themselves the men of the hour, and with the most polished manners helped themselves to the largest portion of Christian meat which had ever reached their teeth.
GENERAL. It is disgusting to listen to! And why should the war be blamed for this? Good Heavens! if only the wise statesmen had finished their business in 1877 as well as the soldiers did theirs, you may be sure there would have been not even a mention of any reinforcement or establishment of irregular armies in Armenia. Consequently, there would have been no massacres.
POLITICIAN. In other words, you mean to say that the Turkish Empire ought to have been totally destroyed?
GENERAL. Emphatically I do. I am sincerely fond of the Turks, and have much esteem for them. They are a fine people, especially when compared with all these nondescript Ethiopians. Yet I verily believe that it is well-nigh time for us to put an end to this Turkish Empire.
POLITICIAN. I should have nothing to say against this, if those Ethiopians of yours would be able to establish in its place some sort of Ethiopian Empire of their own. But up to the present they can only fight each other, and a Turkish Government is as much necessary for them as the presence of Turkish troops is necessary in Jerusalem for preserving the peace and well-being of the various Christian denominations there.
LADY. Indeed! I have always suspected that you would not object to handing over the Sepulchre to the Turks for ever.
POLITICIAN. And you, of course, think that this would be owing to my atheism or indifference, don't you? As a matter of fact, however, my wish to see the Turks in Jerusalem is the reflection of a faint but inextinguishable spark of religious sentiment which I still preserve from my childhood. I know positively that the moment the Turkish soldiers are withdrawn from the streets of Jerusalem all the Christians in the city will massacre each other, after having destroyed all the Christian shrines. If you doubt my impressions and conclusions, just ask any pilgrims whom you may trust, or, what is even better, go and see for yourself.
LADY. That I should go to Jerusalem? Oh, no! What could I see there? ... No; I should think twice before I did that!
POLITICIAN. Well, that only bears out my statement.
LADY. I cannot understand this at all. You argue with the General, and yet you both extol the Turks.
POLITICIAN. The General values them apparently as brave soldiers, and I do so as the guardians of peace and order in the East.
LADY. Fine peace and order, indeed, when some tens of thousands of people are suddenly and mercilessly slaughtered. Personally, I would prefer disorder.
POLITICIAN. As I have already had the honour of stating, the massacres were caused by the revolutionary agitation. Why should you then demand from the Turks a higher degree of Christian meekness and forbearance than is ever demanded from any other nation, not excepting a Christian one? Can you quote me a country where an insurrection has ever been quelled without recourse to harsh and cruel measures? In the case before us, in the first place the instigators of the massacres were not the Turks. In the second place, Turks proper took hardly any part in them, acting in most cases through the General's "devils." And in the third place, I am prepared to admit that the Turkish Government, by letting loose these "devils," overdid the thing; as Ivan IV overdid it when he drowned ten thousand peaceful inhabitants of Novgorod; or as the commissioners of the French Convention overdid it by their noiades and fusillades; or lastly, as the English overdid it in India when they quelled the Mutiny of 1857. And yet there can be little doubt that should these various Ethiopians be left alone, there would be much more massacre than under the Turks.
GENERAL. Who told you I want to put these Ethiopians in the place of Turkey? Surely, the thing is very simple: we should take Constantinople, we should take Jerusalem, and in the place of the Turkish Empire should form a few Russian military provinces, like Samarkand or Askhabad. As to the Turks, they, after they had laid down their arms, should in every way be satisfied and pleased, in religion as much as in everything else.
POLITICIAN. I hope you are not serious now, or I shall be obliged to doubt ... your patriotism. Don't you see that if we started a war with such radical ends in view, this would certainly bring to life once more a European coalition against us, which our Ethiopians, liberated or promised liberation, would ultimately join. These latter understand very well that under the Russian power they would not be so free to express their national spirit. And the end of it all would be that, instead of destroying the Turkish Empire, we should have a repetition -- only on a grander scale -- of the Sebastopol debacle. No, though we have indulged in bad politics sufficiently often, I am sure that we shall never see such madness as a new war with Turkey. If we do see it, then every Russian patriot must exclaim with despair: Quem deus vult perdere, prim dementat.
LADY. What does that mean?
POLITICIAN. It means: Him whom God would destroy, He first makes mad.
LADY. I am glad history is not made according to your argument. You are, I suppose, as much in favour of Austria as of Turkey, aren't you?
POLITICIAN. I need not enlarge upon this, as people more competent than myself -- the national leaders of Bohemia, for example -- have declared long ago: "If there were no Austria, Austria should be invented." The recent affrays in the Vienna Parliament supply the best possible illustration of this maxim, and are a vision in miniature of what must happen in these countries should the Hapsburg Empire be destroyed.
LADY. And what is your opinion about the Franco-Russian Alliance? You seem always to reserve it somehow.
POLITICIAN. Neither do I propose to go into the details of this delicate question just now. Speaking generally, I can say that rapprochement with such a progressive and rich nation as France is, at any rate, beneficial to us. On the other hand, this alliance is, of course, an alliance of peace and precaution. This is, at any rate, the meaning which is put on it in the high circles where it was concluded and is still supported.
MR. Z. As to the benefits of rapprochement between two nations for the development of their morals and culture, this is a complicated matter, which to me seems very obscure. But looking at it from the political point of view, don't you think that by joining one of the two hostile camps on the European continent we lose the advantages of our free position as neutral judge or arbiter between them; we lose our impartiality? By joining one side, and thereby balancing the powers of both groups, don't we create the possibility of an armed conflict between them? It is, for instance, clear that France alone could not fight against the Triple Alliance, whereas with the help of Russia she could certainly do so.
POLITICIAN. Your considerations would be quite correct if anybody had any wish to begin a European war. But I can assure you that nobody has such a wish. At any rate, it is much easier for Russia to prevent France from leaving the path of peace than it is for France to lure Russia to the path of war, undesirable, as a matter of fact, to both of them. The most reassuring thing, however, is the fact that not only are modern nations averse to waging war, but, what is more important, they begin to forget how to do it. Take, for example, the latest conflict, the Spanish-American war. Well, was this a war? Now, I ask you: was it really a war? Mere dolls' play it was; an affray between a street brawler and a constable! "After a long and furious fight the enemy retreated, having lost two killed and one wounded. We sustained no losses." Or: "The whole of the enemy's squadron, after a desperate struggle with our cruiser Money Enough, surrendered at discretion. No losses either of killed or wounded were sustained on either side." And there you have the whole war. I am surprised that all seem to be so little surprised at this new character of war -- its bloodlessness, so to speak. The metamorphosis has been taking place before our very eyes, as we all can remember the sort of bulletins published in 1870 and in 1877.
GENERAL. Wait a little with your surprise until two really military nations come into collision. You will see then what sort of bulletins will be issued!
POLITICIAN. I am not so sure. How long is it since Spain was a first-class military nation? Thank God, the past cannot return. It appears to me that just as in the body useless organs become atrophied, so it is in mankind: the fighting qualities have lost their usefulness, and so they disappear. Should they suddenly reappear again, I should be as much startled as if a bat suddenly acquired eagle eyes, or if men again found themselves with tails.
LADY. But how is it, then, that you yourself praised the Turkish soldiers?
POLITICIAN. I praised them as guardians of peace within the State. In this sense the military power or, as it is said, "the mailed fist," manus militaris, will yet for a long time be necessary for mankind. But this does not interfere with the fact that militancy in the sense of disposition and ability to wage international wars, this national pugnacity, so to speak, must entirely disappear and is already disappearing before our eyes, degenerating into that bloodless, though not altogether harmless, form which is exemplified in Parliamentary squabbles. As, on the other side, the disposition to such displays will apparently remain as long as there are conflicting parties and opinions, so in order to check them the manus militaris will necessarily remain in the State, even at the time when external wars, that is, wars between nations or States, will have long become merely things of the historical past.
GENERAL. That is to say, you liken the police to the coccyx, which still exists in man, although only the Kiev witches are credited with proper tails! How very witty! But aren't you just a little too ready with your comparison? Your conclusion is that just because some nation or other degenerates, becomes flabby, and can no longer fight, therefore the military virtues are decadent or lost all the world over! It is possible that under the introduction of "legislative measures" and "systems" even the Russian soldier may soften to jelly! Heaven preserve us!
LADY (to the Politician). You have not explained yet in what manner, war being excepted, such questions as, for instance, the Eastern Question should be solved. However wicked the Christian nations in the East may be, they do feel a desire to be independent at any cost, and the Turks do for this reason slaughter them. Surely you don't suggest that we should look on with folded arms? Supposing that your criticisms of the past wars are really sound, I shall ask, like the Prince, though in a different sense: "What are we to do now, should massacres begin somewhere again?"
POLITICIAN. But before they do begin, we must quietly exercise our judgment, and instead of a bad policy follow a good one, even though it be German; that is to say, we must not irritate the Turks, and must not shout when in our cups about raising the cross on the mosques. Instead of all this we must in a peaceful and friendly manner civilise Turkey for our mutual benefit: for ours, as much as her own. It depends entirely on us to make the Turks understand in the quickest time possible that slaughtering inhabitants in one's country is not only a bad thing in itself, but, what is the main point, that it has no use and yields no profit.
MR. Z. These suggestions of yours involve railway concessions and all sorts of trade and commercial interests, in which the Germans, I am sure, will forestall us, and competition with them in this direction would be a hopeless task. 
POLITICIAN. But why should we compete? If somebody does hard work for me, I shall be only too glad and thankful. If, however, this makes me cross with him, so that I ask: "Why did he do it and not I?" I am acting in a fashion which would be unworthy of a respectable man. In the same way it would be unworthy of such a nation as Russia to imitate the dog-in-the-manger, which lying on the hay neither eats nor lets others eat. If others, using their own means, can do more quickly and in a better way the good thing which we also desire, then so much the more profitable is it for us. I ask you: were not all our wars with Turkey during the nineteenth century waged only for the sake of safeguarding the human rights of the Turkish Christians? Now, what if the Germans achieve the same object in a sure, though peaceful, way by civilising Turkey? It is clear that had they been as firmly established in Asia Minor in 1895 as the English are in Egypt, you may take my word for it we should not have to discuss Armenian massacres any longer.
LADY. But you have already suggested that it is necessary to make an end of Turkey. Only you are, for some unknown reason, anxious to see her eaten up by the Germans.
POLITICIAN. It is just because the German policy has no desire to swallow such indigestible articles that I called it wise. Its object is more subtle: it is to bring Turkey into the company of the civilised nations, to help the Turks in educating themselves and making themselves capable of undertaking a just and humane control over nations which, owing to their mutual savage hostility, are unable to direct their own affairs peacefully.
LADY. What fairy tales are these? Who will ever think it possible to surrender a Christian people to the Turks for eternal control? I like the Turks myself for many things, but still they are barbarians, and their last word will always be violence. A European culture will only make them worse.
POLITICIAN. Exactly the same could be said about Russia at the time of Peter the Great, and even at a much later period. We remember "Turkish barbarities," but how long is it since in Russia, and in other countries as well, that "Turkish barbarities" became unknown? "The poor unhappy Christians groaning under the Moslem yoke!" And what about those who groaned under the yoke of our wicked landlords -- were they Christians or pagans? Or what about the soldiers who groaned under the punishment of the rod? However, the only just and reasonable answer to these groans of the Russian peasants was the abolition of serfdom and of the rod, and not the destruction of the Russian Empire. Why, then, must the answer to the Bulgarian and Armenian groans be of necessity the destruction of the State in which these groans are heard, but also of States where they need not be heard either?
LADY. It is one thing when disgusting things take place within a Christian State which can be easily reformed, and another thing when a Christian people is being oppressed by a non-Christian one.
POLITICIAN. The impossibility of reforming Turkey is merely a rooted prejudice which the Germans are disproving before our eyes, just as they earlier helped to destroy the prejudice of the inborn savagery of the Russian people. As to your distinction between "Christians" and "non-Christians," you will do well to remember that for the victims of barbarities this question is lacking in interest. If anybody strips off my skin, I shall surely not ask him: "What is your religion, sir?" Neither shall I be at all consoled if I find out that the people torturing me are not only extremely unpleasant and disturbing to me, but on the top of this, being Christians themselves, are exceedingly abhorrent to their own God, who sees His commands openly defied. Speaking objectively, it cannot be denied that the "Christianity" of Ivan the Terrible, or Saltykova, or Arakcheiev  is not in any sense an advantage, but rather so utterly base that it is impossible to meet with its like in other religions. Yesterday the General was describing the dastardly deeds of the savage Kurds, and amongst other things he mentioned their Devil-worship. It is certainly very wicked to roast babies or grown-up people over a slow fire -- I am quite prepared to call such acts devilish. It is a well-known fact, however, that Ivan the Terrible was particularly fond of this very roasting of men on a slow fire. He would even keep the fire underneath well poked! And yet he was not a savage or a devil-worshipper, but rather a man of keen intellect, and, for the age in which he lived, a man of wide learning, whilst at the same time he was also a theologist firmly attached to orthodoxy. But we need not probe so far into the remote past. Take the Bulgarian Stamboulov and the Servian Milan -- are they Turks, or are they representatives of the so-called Christian nations? What is, then, this "Christianity" of yours if not an empty title, which carries with it no guarantee for anything?
LADY. One would think it is the Prince expounding his faith. How strange!
POLITICIAN. When obvious truth is concerned I am willing to be at one not only with our esteemed Prince, but even with Balaam's ass!
MR. Z. But if my memory does not fail me, your Excellency has kindly agreed to take the leading part in to-day's discussion -- not with the idea of arguing about Christianity or the animals of the Bible. I can hear ringing in my ears your soulful prayer: "Only as little religion as possible! For God's sake, as little religion as you can help!" Remembering this, may it please your Excellency to return to the subject of our discussion and to explain one little thing that is puzzling me. It is this. As you have rightly stated, our object must be not the destruction of the Turkish Empire, but the work of its civilisation. On the other hand, as you also admitted on quite reasonable grounds, the advancement of Turkey along the path of culture will be, and is now, much better carried on by the Germans than it could ever be by us. Now, if both these statements are correct, will you be good enough to tell me what in your opinion there is left for Russia as an object for a special and solely Russian policy in the Eastern question?
POLITICIAN. A special policy for Russia? Why, it is clear that no such policy can exist. As you understand it, the special Russian policy is obviously one which would be set up and pursued by Russia independently of and against the plans of all the other European nations. But I must tell you that, as a matter of fact, no such policy has ever been pursued. We have deviated sometimes to its track, as, for instance, in the 'fifties, and later on in the 'seventies; but those regrettable deviations, giving examples of what I may call bad policy, have instantly brought their own reward in the shape of reverses of greater or smaller significance. Generally speaking, it is in no way possible to regard Russian policy in the Eastern question as independent or isolated. Its object from the sixteenth century and almost to the end of the eighteenth century was to defend the civilised world from the threatened invasion of the Turks, working in co-operation with Poland and Austria. As in that defence we were obliged to act conjointly with the Poles, the Cesarians, and the Republic of Venice, though free from any formal alliances, it is evident that that policy was a common and not an independent one. In the nineteenth century, and much more so in the twentieth century, its co-operative character must remain the same as before, though naturally its objects and means have of necessity changed. The problem now is not to defend Europe from Turkish barbarism, but to make the Turks themselves more European. For the old object the means required were military; for that of the present day they must be peaceful. Both in the first case as well as in the second the object itself remains constant: as formerly the European nations were bound in solidarity by the interests of military defence, so to-day they are bound in solidarity by the interests of spreading civilisation.
GENERAL. And yet the old military solidarity did not prevent Richelieu and Louis XIV from entering into alliances with Turkey against the Hapsburgs.
POLITICIAN. Just the bad Bourbon policy, which along with their senseless home politics duly received its just reward from history.
LADY. You call this history? It used to be called regicide, if I am not mistaken.
POLITICIAN (to Lady). The words matter little. What remains is the fact that no political mistake passes off without retribution. Those inclined to look that way, may see in this something mystical. So far as I am concerned, I find as little of it in this case as I should find were I, in my present age and position, to start drinking champagne, glass after glass, as if I were a young man, instead of satisfying myself with a milk diet. I should undoubtedly become ill, and were I too persistent in my ancient regime, I should at last die off, as the Bourbons did.
LADY. You cannot dispute that your policy of milk diet a la tongue becomes exceedingly tedious.
POLITICIAN (offended). If I had not been interrupted, I should have long ago exhausted my subject, and given place to somebody more entertaining.
LADY. Please do not take me seriously. I was merely joking. On the contrary, I think you have been very witty ... for your age and position.
POLITICIAN. So I say that we are at one with the rest of Europe in the object of reforming Turkey on the lines of culture, and we have not at present, nor can we ever have, any special independent policy. It must, however, be admitted that on account of our comparative backwardness in social development, in industry and trade, the share of Russia in this common cause of civilising the Turkish Empire cannot at present be very great. The foremost importance which our country had as a military State cannot, of course, be retained by us now. Predominance is not acquired for nothing; it must be earned. We earned our military importance not by mere bluff, but by actual wars and victories. In the same way, our importance in the work of civilisation must be earned by actual labour and successes in peaceful callings. As the Turks had to fall back before our military victories, they will now retire before those who prove themselves to be strongest in the sphere of peaceful progress. What is there left for us to do, in that case? You will hardly meet anywhere now with that blatant insanity which believes that the mere ideal of the imaginary raising of the cross on St. Sophia is a more powerful force in itself than is the actual superiority of the Germans.
GENERAL. The only thing is that this cross must not be a mere ideal.
POLITICIAN. But who will materialise it for you? So long as you have not found the means to do so, the only thing demanded by our national ambition -- within the reasonable limits, of course, in which this feeling could be recognised at all -- is to double our efforts so that we could as quickly as possible come into line with other nations in what we lag behind them, and by doing so, gain the time and effort wasted on various Slav committees and similar poisonous nonsense. Besides, if we are as yet powerless in Turkey, we are already capable of playing a leading part in civilising Central Asia, and particularly the Far East, whither, it appears, the history of the world is transferring its centre of gravity. Owing to her geographical situation, and other advantageous conditions, Russia can do more there than any other nation, except, of course, England. It follows, then, that the object of our policy in this respect must be to secure a permanent and amiable understanding with England, so that our co-operation with her in the work of civilisation may never change into a senseless hostility and unworthy competition.
MR. Z. Unfortunately, some such transformation always comes about -- with single individuals as much as with nations, as if it were a part of their destiny.
POLITICIAN. It is true, they do happen. On the other hand, I don't know of a single case in the life of men, or in the life of nations, when hostility and envy displayed towards their coadjutors in a common cause have ever helped to make any one of them stronger, richer, and happier. This universal experience, to which not a single exception could be found, is being made use of by clever people. And I believe that such a clever nation as Russia will not fail to make use of it either. To quarrel with the English in the Far East -- why, this would be the most utter madness, not to speak of the indecency of indulging in domestic quarrels before strangers. Or do you perhaps think that we are more closely related to the yellow-faced Chinese than to the compatriots of Shakespeare and Byron?
MR. Z. It is a delicate question.
POLITICIAN. Then we'll leave it alone for a time. Here you have something else to consider. From what I have said before, you already know that I recognise only two objects for the Russian policy: firstly, the maintenance of peace in Europe (for every European war at the present stage of historical evolution would amount to an insane and criminal internecine struggle); and secondly, the civilisation of the barbarian nations which are within the sphere of our influence. Now, if you accept my point of view you will see that both these objects, apart from their intrinsic value, are strikingly connected with each other, serving to further the realisation of each other, and that they are mutually interdependent for their very existence. It is obvious, indeed, that if we really do all we can to give the benefits of civilisation to the barbaric countries, in which work all Europe is equally interested, we draw together the bonds of solidarity between ourselves and other nations; whilst consolidating European unity we, by this very fact, strengthen our influence among barbarous nations, as we thus leave them no hope of successful resistance. Don't you think that if the yellow man knew that all Europe were behind Russia, we could do in Asia anything we wish? If, however, he saw that Europe were not behind Russia, but against her, he would not hesitate even to attack our frontiers, and we should have to defend ourselves on two fronts, over a line ten thousand verses long. I do not believe in the "Yellow Peril," because I do not admit the possibility of a European war. But given the latter, we should, of course, have to fear even the Mongolians.
GENERAL. To you a European war or a Mongolian invasion seems to be absolutely out of the range of possibility. But I must confess I have very little faith in your "consolidarity of the European nations" and the coming "peace of the world." Somehow it seems to be highly unnatural, and exceedingly unlikely. In the old Christmas hymn you hear sung: "Peace on earth and goodwill towards men." This means that peace will reign on the earth only when goodwill is established among men. But where is this goodwill now? Have you ever seen it? To be quite frank, both you and I feel a real and sincere goodwill only to one European power -- the principality of Monaco. Inviolable, also, is our peace with it. To regard, however, the Germans or the English as members of our own family, to feel that their benefit is our benefit, their pleasure is our pleasure -- such a "consolidarity," as you call it, with the European nations, I am sure, we shall never have.
POLITICIAN. Why "we shall never have," when it is already with us, when it is in the very nature of things? We are at one with the European Powers for the simple reason that we are Europeans ourselves. This has been an accomplished fact since the eighteenth century, and neither the total lack of culture amongst the Russian masses, nor the unfortunate chimeras of the Slavophiles, will ever be able to alter it.
GENERAL. Well, but do the Europeans agree among themselves? The French with the Germans, for instance; the English with both of these? It is rumoured that even the Swedes and the Norwegians have somewhere lost their consolidarity!
POLITICIAN. What a forceful argument! But what a pity it is that all its force rests on a defective basis -- on the total neglect of historical fact. I will ask you a question: "Would Moscow have been at one with Novgorod at the time of Ivan III., or Ivan the Terrible?" Will you on the strength of this deny the consolidarity of the Moscow and Novgorod provinces in the common interests of the State?
GENERAL. Oh, no; not at all. But this I will say: let us wait a little before declaring ourselves Europeans -- at least until that historic moment when all the European nations are as firmly bound together as our provinces are in the Russian State. You will surely not advise us to tear ourselves to pieces in working for our consolidarity with all other Europeans, when they themselves are at daggers drawn?
POLITICIAN. You will have it "at daggers drawn"! But you need not worry. Not only will you be saved from the necessity of tearing yourself to pieces between Norway and Sweden, but from doing so between France and Germany, and for the simple reason that they will never come to a rupture. At present it seems to be evident. Only in Russia can you find a good many people still taking for France that insignificant group of adventurers who should be, and must be, put in prison: let them there display their nationalism and preach a war with Germany.
LADY. It would really be a very good thing if it were only possible to put in prison all those who foment strife among the nations. But I think you are wrong.
POLITICIAN. Of course, what I have said must be taken cum grano salis. It is quite true that on the surface Europe has not yet become consolidated into one whole. But I still stand by my historical analogy. For instance, in our country in the sixteenth century, separation among various provinces, though still present, was at its last gasp, whilst the unity of the State had long ago ceased to be a dream and was actually shaping itself into definite forms. So in a similar way in modern Europe, though national antagonism is still existent, particularly amongst the ignorant masses and half-educated politicians, it is not strong enough to transform itself into any considerable action: that it will not go so far as to lead to a European war I am positively certain. As to the goodwill of which you are speaking, General, to tell you the truth I fail to see it, not only amongst different nations, but within any nation itself, or even within single families. If you do meet it occasionally, it does not go farther than the first generation. Well then, what conclusion can be drawn from this? Certainly not that this supplies the reason for intestine wars and fratricide. Similarly, in international relationships. The French and Germans may dislike each other if they wish, but let them abstain from actual fighting. I am sure that there won't be any.
MR. Z. This is very probable. But even regarding Europe as one whole, we cannot conclude from this that we ourselves are Europeans. You know there is an opinion, which has become fairly popular during the last twenty years, that Europe, that is, the combination of all the German-Latin nations, is really a distinct type characterised by political unanimity and by common culture and history; it is further maintained that we, Russians, do not belong to this group, but constitute a separate Greco-Slavonic type.
POLITICIAN. I have heard of this variety of Slavophilism, and even have had occasion to speak with some of those holding this view. Now, there is one thing I have noticed about this theory, and it seems to me to give a decisive answer to the whole problem. It is a curious thing that all these gentlemen who argue in glowing perorations against Europe, and our being Europeans, can never be satisfied with the assumption of our Greco-Slavonic origin, but must always plunge headlong into a belief in some sort of Chinaism, Buddhism, Tibetism, and other Indo-Mongolian Asiaticisms. Their alienation from Europe is directly proportional to their gravitation to Asia. Now, what does it all mean? Let us admit that they are right in their view of Europe, that she is spiritually wrong. Why, however, this fatal running to the other extreme, to this aforesaid Asiaticism? Ah! And whither has the Greco-Slavonic nucleus vanished? No! tell me, where has it gone? Ah? And yet it is in that very nucleus that one would expect to find the very substance of the thing! Ah? There you are, you see. You may drive nature out through the door, but she will get back through the window. And nature in this case is the fact that no independent Greco-Slavonic type of historic culture exists at all; but there has been, is, and always will be, Russia as the great borderland of Europe towards Asia. Such being the actual position of our country, it is only too natural that it feels the influence of the Asiatic element to a much greater extent than the rest of Europe, and this is all that makes up our imaginary originality. Byzantium herself was original, not through anything of her own, but only because of an admixture of the Asiatic element. Whilst with us, from time immemorial, and particularly since the days of the Mongolian yoke, this element has become a part of our nature, our second soul, so to speak, so that the Germans could say about us, sighing as they did so:
It is impossible for us to get rid of this second soul, nor is it desirable; for we owe a great deal to it. In order, however, that we may save ourselves from being torn to pieces in such a conflict, as is suggested by the General, it has been necessary that one soul should establish a decisive supremacy over the other, and it stands to reason that this soul should be the better of the two -- that it should develop an intellect which is really the more powerful, the more capable of further progress, and the more highly endowed with spiritual possibilities. Such supremacy was actually established at the time of Peter the Great. But the ineradicable (though finally overpowered) affinity of our soul with Asia even after that led certain minds into meaningless dreams that some chimerical revision of the historical question would settle it once and for ever. Hence Slavophilism, the theory of an original type of historical culture and all the rest of it. As a matter of fact, we are irrevocably Europeans, but with an Asiatic sediment at the bottom of our soul. To me it is clear even grammatically. What is "Russian" in the grammatical sense? An adjective. But what is the noun to which it refers?
LADY. I think the noun is "man," the Russian man.
POLITICIAN. No, that is too general and indefinite. Red Indians and Eskimos are also men, but I cannot agree in regarding as my noun what is common to me and the Redskins and the Eskimos.
LADY. There are things, you know, which are common to all human beings: love, for instance.
POLITICIAN. Well, that is even more general, How can I regard love as my specific property when I know that all other animals, and even miscreants, have it in their nature?
MR. Z. The question is no doubt very complicated. I am, for example, a man of meek character, and in love would be more at one with a white or blue-grey dove than with the black Moor Othello, though he also is called a man.
GENERAL. At a certain age every sensible man is at one with the white doves. 
LADY. Whatever is this?
GENERAL. This pun is not for you, but only for us with his Excellency.
POLITICIAN. Leave it alone, please, do leave it alone. Treve de plaisanteries. Surely we are not on the stage of the Michael Theatre. I wished to say that the correct noun for the adjective "Russian" is "European." We are Russian Europeans, as there are English, French, and German Europeans. If I feel myself a European, would it not be stupid of me to argue that I am some Slavo-Russ or Greco-Slav? I am as positively certain of being a European as I am of being a Russian. I can, and perhaps even must, pity and protect every man, as every animal too: "Happy is he who shows mercy even to animals"; but I shall regard myself at one, of the same family, not with Zulus or Chinamen, but only with the nations and men who have created and preserved all those treasures of culture which form my spiritual food, and which afford me my highest pleasures. Before everything else it was necessary that these chosen nations should form and consolidate themselves, and should resist the onslaught of the lower elements. For this, war was necessary and war was a holy enterprise. At present they possess the necessary form and strength, and there is nothing they need fear, except internal strife. Now the time has arrived for peace and the peaceful expansion of European culture over all the world. All must become Europeans. The idea expressed by "European" must be as all-embracing as that expressed by "man," and the idea of the European civilised world identical with that of mankind. In this lies the meaning of history. At first there were only Greek Europeans. They were followed by the Roman ones. Next there arose all kinds of others, first in the West, later in the East; then there came Russian Europeans; later -- beyond the ocean -- the American Europeans; and now must come Europeans who are Turkish, Persian, Indian, Japanese, and possibly even Chinese. The "European" is a notion with definite contents and an ever- expanding capacity. Note here one important distinction: every man is just as much a man as any other. Therefore, if we take as our noun this abstract symbol, we are bound to come to the all-levelling equality, and the nation of Newton and Shakespeare will have to be valued no more highly than certain Redskins. This would be too absurd for words, and subversive of practice. But if my noun is not a man in general, not that empty space with two feet, but a man as a bearer of culture, that is, a European, then nothing is left to support this absurd universal equality. The idea of a European, or what is the same, the idea of culture, possesses a measure for defining the relative virtues or values of various races, nations, individuals. A sensible policy cannot but take into account all these variations in value. If it does not do so, if it, for instance, places on the same level a comparatively civilised Austria and some half-wild tribes of Herzegovina, this sort of thing will at once lead us to those stupid and dangerous adventures for which our last pillars of Slavophilism are still longing. Il y a europeen et europeen. Even after the cherished and, I hope, not far-distant hour has struck, when Europe or the civilised world will really coincide in extent with the total population of the world, even then there will remain in the unified and pacified mankind all those natural and historically determined gradations and shades in the values of various cultures which will determine our relations with other nations. Even in the triumphant and all-embracing kingdom of the higher culture, just as much as in the kingdom of Heaven -- one glory is of the sun, another glory of the moon, yet other glories of the stars, for one star differs from another in glory -- this is, I believe, how it is said in the Catechism, isn't it? How much more is it necessary to guard ourselves from an all-levelling equality in days when this object, though near, is not yet realised? At the present time, for instance, the papers have told us of more dissensions between England and the Transvaal -- that the Boers are even threatening England with a war.  I can already see how all sorts of journalists and politicians in Russia, and most probably all over the Continent, will take up arms against England and will cry themselves hoarse in defence of those poor and oppressed Boers. But it is the same as if our most esteemed, worthy, well-known and learned Mr. Martens, having entered a neighbouring shop to buy something, was suddenly subjected to a violent attack by a dirty shop-boy shouting: "The shop is mine; you are a stranger here; if you don't clear off I will stifle or kill you!" -- what time he is already trying to stifle him. Of course, one would feel pity for our esteemed Mr. Martens who fell a victim to such a rascally trick. But if this actually happened, I should certainly feel some moral satisfaction if my esteemed friend, having properly thrashed the rascal, had sent him by way of the police court to a home for young criminals. Instead of this, however, we see various respectable people encouraging him and spurring him on. "Clever boy! Fancy a little chap like that being plucky enough to tackle such a great hulking fellow! Go for him, Tommy; we will back you up when you want it!" How disgusting this is! Why, these Boer keepers and breeders of cattle have not brains enough to proclaim themselves Dutchmen, with whom they are bound by blood-ties. Holland is a real nation, highly cultured, and with great merits to her credit. But no! They regard themselves as a separate nation; they want to create a country of their own. The damned rascals!
LADY. In the first place, you need not swear. And in the second, tell me what this Transvaal is like, and what kind of people live in it.
MR. Z. The people living there are a mongrel breed of Europeans and negroes; they are neither white nor black; they are "bur'i" (boers). 
LADY. Again a calembour?
POLITICIAN. And a very high-grade one!
MR. Z. What are the boers, such are also the calembours. Though if you don't care for this colour, they have there also an Orange republic.
POLITICIAN. Speaking seriously, these Boers are of course Europeans, but only bad ones. Separated from their great motherland, they have to a great extent lost their former culture. Surrounded by savages, they have become wilder and coarser themselves. Now to place them on the same level as the English, and to go even so far as to wish them success in the struggle with England -- cela n'a pas de nom!
LADY. Didn't your Europeans sympathise with the Caucasian mountaineers when they fought Russia in defence of their independence? And are not Russians far more civilised than Caucasians?
POLITICIAN. I would not care to enlarge upon the motives of this sympathy of Europe with the Caucasian tribesmen. The only thing I will say is that we must assimilate the general European spirit and not be influenced by the accidental stupidities of this or that brand of European. From the bottom of my heart I regret, of course, that England, in order to pacify these conceited barbarians, will apparently be compelled to use such an obsolete and historically condemned weapon as war. But if it proves inevitable owing to the degraded state of mind of these Zulus -- I mean to say these Boers, encouraged by the foolish envy of England nursed by the Continent, I shall naturally eagerly wish that the war may end as soon as possible with the complete defeat of these African ruffians, so that nobody ever hears talk of their independence again. Should they prove successful -- and owing to the distance of their country from England this is not altogether impossible -- it would be a triumph of barbarism over culture, and to me as a Russian, that is, a European, the day when that happened would be a day of deep national mourning.
MR. Z. (to the General, in a low voice). Ah, how well statesmen can speak. Altogether like that Frenchman: "Ce sabre d'honneur est le plus beau jour de ma vie."
LADY. No; I can't agree with you. Why should not we sympathise with these transboers? We sympathise with William Tell, for instance, do we not?
POLITICIAN. Well, if only they had created their own poetical legend, had inspired such artists as Schiller and Rossini, and had produced from among themselves anybody equal to Jean Jacques Rousseau, or any other writers or scientists -- then the thing would be quite different.
LADY. But all that kind of thing happens afterwards; at first the Swiss themselves were shepherds like the Boers. But take other nations. Were the Americans, when they rose against the English to win independence, in any way distinguished in culture? It is true they were not "bur'i"; they were perhaps a little "red-skinned," and used to strip off each other's scalps -- according to Captain Mayne Reid. And yet even Lafayette sympathised with them, and was right, because now, for instance, in Chicago they have managed not only to unite all the religious bodies, but they have made an exhibition of them into the bargain. Nobody has ever seen such a thing before. Paris also wanted to gather together all its religions for the coming exhibition, but nothing came of it, as you doubtless know. One abbe, Victor Charbonnell, strove particularly hard for this union of religion. He wrote a few letters even to me -- he was so nice. Only all the religions refused to join. Even the Great Rabbi declared: "For religion we have the Bible, and an exhibition has nothing to do with it." Poor Charbonnell was in such despair that he renounced Christ and published in the papers that he had retired from the service of religion and had a profound respect for Renan. He ended also very badly. According to somebody who wrote to me, he either got married or took to drink. Then our Nepliuev also tried, and he was disappointed in all religions. He wrote to me once -- he was such an idealist -- to the effect that he relied only on a united mankind. But how can you show a united mankind at a Paris exhibition? I think this merely a fancy. However, the Americans managed their business very well indeed. Each creed sent them a clergyman. A Catholic bishop was made chairman. He read them the "Pater noster" in English, and the Buddhist and Chinese priest idol-worshippers replied to him with all courtesy: Oh, yes! All right, sir! We do not wish evil to anybody, and ask only for one thing: keep your missionaries as far from our countries as you possibly can. Because your religion is exceedingly good for you, and if you do not observe it, it is not our fault; whilst our religion is the best for us." And it finished so well that there was not even a single fight! Everybody wondered. Now you see how good the Americans have become! Perhaps the modern Africans will in time be like these same Americans. Who knows?
POLITICIAN. Everything is possible, of course. Even the veriest gutter-snipe may later become a scientist. But before this happens you should for his own benefit give him more than one good hiding.
LADY. What language! Decidement vous vous encanaillez. And this is all from Monte Carlo! Qui est-ce que vous frequentez la has? Les families des croupiers sans doute. Well, that concerns nobody but yourself. I would only ask you to prune your political wisdom a little bit, as you keep us from our dinner. It is time we finished.
POLITICIAN. I really wanted to sum up what I have said -- to put head and tail together.
LADY. I have no faith in you. You will never finish of your own accord. Let me help you to explain your thought. You wanted to say, didn't you, that times have changed; that before there were God and war, but now, instead of God, culture and peace. Isn't it so?
POLITICIAN. Well, I think it is near enough.
LADY. Good! Now what God is I do not know, nor can I explain. But I feel it all the same. As to your culture, I have not even a feeling for it. Will you then explain to me in a few words what it is?
POLITICIAN. What are the elements of culture, what it embraces -- you know yourself: it includes all the treasures of human thought and genius which have been created by the chosen spirits of the chosen nations.
LADY. But these "chosen spirits" and their creations differ alarmingly. You have, for instance, Voltaire and Rousseau and Madonna, and Nana, and Alfred De Musset and Bishop Philaret. How can you throw all these into one heap and set up this heap for yourself in place of God?
POLITICIAN. I was also going to say that we need not worry ourselves about culture as an historical treasury. It has been created, it is existing, and let us thank God for the fact. We may, perhaps, hope that there will be other Shakespeares and Newtons, but this problem is not within our power and presents no practical interest. There is, however, another side to culture, a practical one, or if you like a moral one, and this is what in private life we call politeness, civility. To the superficial eye it may appear unimportant, but it has an enormous and singular significance for the simple reason that it is the only quality which can be universal and obligatory: it is impossible to demand from anybody either the highest virtue, or the highest intellect or genius. But it is possible and necessary to demand from everybody politeness. It is that minimum of reasonableness and morality which allows men to live like true human beings. Of course, politeness is not all culture, but it is a necessary condition of every form of cultured conduct, just as knowledge of reading and writing, though not the sum total of education, is a necessary condition to it. Politeness is cultured conduct, a l'usage de tout le monde. And we are actually able to see how it spreads from private relationships amongst people of the same class to social relationships amongst different classes, and so to political or international relationships. Some of us can surely still remember how in our youth people of our class were allowed to treat the lower classes without any civility at all. Whereas at present a necessary and even compulsory politeness has overstepped this class boundary, and is now on the way to overstep international boundaries as well.
LADY. Do, please, speak briefly. I see what you are driving at. It is that peaceful politics amongst the States is the same as politeness amongst individuals, isn't it?
POLITICIAN. You are quite correct. It is evidenced in the very words "politeness" and "politics," which obviously are closely related to each other. A remarkable thing is that no special feelings are necessary for this, no such goodwill, as was to no purpose mentioned by the General. If I do not fall upon anybody and do not furiously bite his head, this does not mean that I have any goodwill towards that person. On the contrary, I may nurse in my soul the most rancorous feelings, but as a cultured man I cannot but feel repulsion at biting anybody, and, what is more important, I understand full well that the result of it will be anything but savoury, whilst if I abstain from it and treat this man in a polite manner, I shall lose nothing and gain much. Similarly, whatever may be the antipathies existing between two nations, if they have reached a certain level of culture they will never come to voies de fait, that is, to war, and for the patent reason that, in the first place, the real war -- not that portrayed in poetry and pictures, but as actually experienced -- with all those corpses, foul wounds, crowds of rough and filthy men, the stoppage of the normal order of life, destruction of useful buildings and institutions, of bridges, railways, telegraphs -- that a thing so horrid as this must be positively repulsive to a civilised nation, just as it is repulsive to us to see knocked-out eyes, broken jaws, and bitten-off noses. In the second place, at a certain stage of development, the nation understands how profitable it is to be civil to other nations and how damaging to its own interests it will be if it fights them. Here you, of course, have a number of gradations: the fist is more cultured than the teeth, the stick is more cultured than the fist, and the symbolical slap in the face is even more cultured still. Similarly, wars also can be conducted in a more or less savage way; the European wars of the nineteenth century more resemble a formal duel between two respectable persons than a fight between two drunken labourers. But even this is only a transitional stage. Note that even the duel is out of fashion in advanced countries. Whereas backward Russia mourns her two greatest poets who have fallen in a duel; in more civilised France the duel has long ago changed into a bloodless offering to a bad and effete tradition. "Quand on est mort c'est qu'on n'est plus en vie," M. De-la-Palliss would say, and I am sure we shall still see with you how duels together with war will be relegated for ever to the archives of history. A compromise cannot last long here. Real culture requires that every kind of fighting between men and nations should be entirely abolished. Anyhow, peaceful politics are the measure and the outward sign of the progress of culture. This is why, however anxious I am to please the worthy General, I still stand by my statement that the literary agitation against war is a welcome and satisfying fact. This agitation not only precedes, but actually expedites the final solution of a problem long since ripened. With all its peculiarities and exaggerations, this campaign acquires importance by its emphasising in the public consciousness the main line of historical progress. A peaceful, that is, civil, i.e., universally profitable settlement of all international relations and conflicts -- such is the fundamental principle of sound politics for civilised mankind. Ah? (to Mr. Z.) You want to say something?
MR. Z. Oh, it's nothing. It is only about your recent remark that peaceful politics is the symptom of progress. It reminds me that in Tourguenev's Smoke some person, speaking just as reasonably, says "Progress is a symptom." Don't you think, then, that peaceful politics becomes a symptom of a symptom?
POLITICIAN. Well, what of it? Of course, everything is relative. But what is your idea after all?
MR. Z. My idea is that if peaceful politics is merely a shadow of a shadow, is it worth while to discuss it so long? Itself and all that shadowy progress? Wouldn't it be much better to say frankly to mankind what Father Barsanophius said to the pious old lady: "You are old, you are feeble, and you will never be any better."
LADY. Well, it's now too late to talk about this. (To the Politician.) But you see what a practical joke this politico-politeness of yours has played on you.
POLITICIAN. What is that?
LADY. Simply that your visit to Monte Carlo, or par euphemisme, to Nice will have to be put off to-morrow!
POLITICIAN. Why will it?
LADY. Because these gentlemen here want to reply to you. And as you have been speaking with such prolixity as to leave no time for their replies, they are entitled to do so to-morrow. And surely, at a time when a company of cultured people is busy refuting your arguments, you would scarcely permit yourself to indulge in more or less forbidden pleasures in the company of uneducated croupiers and their families? This would be a comble of impoliteness. And what would be left then of your "obligatory minimum of morality"?
POLITICIAN. If that is the case, I must put off for one day my visit to Nice. I am interested myself to hear what can be said against my axioms.
LADY. That's splendid! Now I think everybody is really very hungry, and but for the culture you preach would have long ago made a dash for the dining-room.
POLITICIAN. Il me semble du reste que la culture et l'art culinaire se marient tres bien ensemble.
LADY. Oh, oh! I must not listen to stuff like this!
(Here all the rest, exchanging feeble witticisms, hastily followed the lady of the house to the dinner awaiting them.)
1 A play upon words in Russian; the word for "company" stands also for "campaign." (Translator.)
2. A play upon words in Russian. (Translator.)
3. The hero of Gogol's The Diary of a Madman. (Translator.)
4. Quotations from popular poems by Lermontov and Poushkin. (Translator.)
5. "Poushkin" -- of the "poushka" -- of the gun. (Translator.)
6. These words, which were written by me in Oct., 1899, were fully borne out in a month's time by the announced German-Turkish convention concerning Asia Minor and the Baghdad railway. (Author.)
7. The Moscow landlady of the middle of the 18th century, Saltykova, and the favourite of Alexander I., General Arakcheiev, have become famous in Russia for the monstrous atrocity with which they treated those under their power. (Translator.)
9. The discussion took place in April, 1898. (Author.)
10. A play upon words. In Russian "bur'i" means both boers and brown. (Translator.)